Book Review: “Shot in the Heart” by Mikal Gilmore

I learned of Mikal Gilmore many years ago. Not through his association with Rolling Stone magazine or because of this book, but because one of the members of a band that I had been doing PR for had connected with him on social media and had hopes of Mr. Gilmore taking a liking to their music. That never panned out, but for some reason his name always stuck with me. It was later that I learned about his family’s association with a murder that had made headlines back in the mid 1970s. Even though I was in my early teens at the time, I have no recollection of the story. About 10 years ago, Mikal became one of the first people to “Follow” this blog. I’ve never contact him or has he contacted me…he’s just been ‘around’ me now for over a decade.

I don’t remember how I found out earlier this year that Mikal Gilmore had written a 400 page book in 1994 about his family’s past history and the murders that his brother committed, but when I found Shot in the Heart I decided I needed to read it. The first 50 pages were hard to get through as he describes the history of Latter Day Saint’s religion. Even though it is a poignant part of the story in the end, I put the book down for over a week, wondering if it was going to be wearisome. But when I  picked it up again, I couldn’t put it back down and read it in 2 days.

This story is going to draw you in and it’s going to break your heart. If you are anything like me, you’re going to start seeing yourself and your own family and friends in this story. And like Mikal and his brother Frank, you’re going to wonder what was the factor that made their brother, Gary Gilmore, lead a life of crime and eventually murder two innocent people in 1976. At the time of the murders, committed over two consecutive days, Gary Gilmore was 35 years old and had spent half his life in jail. The story would make headlines around the world when Gary Gilmore was sentenced to death, but refused to have argue the sentence, fight for a retrial, and instead insisted that they put him to death before a firing squad. Nothing his family could do or say would change his decision.

Mikal brings this story to life with such honesty. He lays everything out for the world to see in his own voice even though the story had been published as a book, The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer in 1980. (It would also be made into a movie). It’s the sad story of a family with a lot of dark, dark secrets, lies and abuse that started several generations before the four Gilmore boys (Frank Jr., Gary, Gaylon and Mikal) were born. And despite all his research, there were many secrets that Mikal couldn’t find closure for, including his father’s mysterious life with many former marriages and children before he would marry Mikal’s mother Bessie Brown, a Mormon.

This story is going to stick with you for days. I know it has for me. It’s left me with so many questions about the Gilmore family that I can’t imagine what it must be like for Mikal and Frank, Jr. (the last two survivors in family). And after the book was published, how many people came forward with more information to fill in the missing pieces? How many siblings would he discover or how many of them even know that are part of this family’s sordid past that was splashed across the front pages of major newspapers?

Yes, this book is going to stick with you. I don’t know for how long, but I can’t stop thinking about it. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!


P.S. – to make sure this book review is on topic, it’s essential to point out that Mikal does bring up the night he saw The Beatles perform on Ed Sullivan in 1964 and the impact it had on him to for his future as a music critic and writer for Rolling Stone magazine.



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The Best Beatles Books of 2020

     Apologies to those that participated in last week’s sorry attempt at this poll. There were just too many glitches in the poll to make it a viable way come up  with an accurate count. So we’ve created an online poll that is now based off-site at that allows us to make sure every vote is counted. Thank you for your patience…
     Beatles Freak Reviews doesn’t like to be like every other Beatles fan site. So we’re going to do thing a little differently. Instead of us telling you what our favorite Beatles books published in 2020 are, we want to know your favorites!
     Just fill out our poll by either voting for one that has already been listed or check “Other” & fill in the name and author of the book in the space provided. We’ve listed a couple random books from 2020 to get things started. We’ll post the results in early 2021.
     The book with the most votes will be featured on our homepage for all of 2021!
Click 2020 to go to survey:

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I Saw The Beatles – Episode 22 with Sibbie O’Sullivan 

Welcome back to episode 22 of I Saw The Beatles! This week’s special guest is Sibbie O’Sullivan. When Sibbie was a young girl, her friend’s father got tickets to see the dress rehearsal for the Beatles performance on Ed Sullivan in August 1965! Sibbie talks about that experience and about her life mixed with her love of John Lennon. The book is called My Private Lennon: Explorations from a Fan Who Never Screamed.

Listen at: I Saw The Beatles – Episode 22 with Sibbie O’Sullivan 

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The History of Abbey Road Studios – Part 9 of 9

By early 1929, the Eyre Estate had decided to sell 3 Abbey Road and their first thought was to offer the house and land to the Central London Building Company that owned The Lady Worker Homes at 1 Abbey Road. On April 5, 1929, the estate sent a letter to the LBC and offered the property to them for £12,500 even though the inspectors had placed a value of only £10k. They received a reply from the representatives for Francis Henry Meyers “the Managing Director of the Central London Building Company Limited…”

In the meantime, another offer for the property came in from Lady Poynter, wife of Sir Ambrose Poynter. She had opened a Decorator shop in London in 1924 and her husband was a famous London architect.

After a month’s delay, the Eyre Estate accepted F.H. Meyers offer of £12,500 thinking he was representing the London Building Company but in all actuality he was purchasing the property for himself.

In the meantime, the representatives for 5 Abbey Road jumped into the negotiations state that, “…we understand the property adjoining is shortly to be demolished. Our client is desirous of purchasing a small portion of the adjoining land amounting to some 70’ long by approximately 3’ wide to enable her to get access to her garden.”, but unfortunately, the sale had already gone through to F.H. Meyers that same day.

It’s not known whether or not F.H. Meyers every actually lived at 3 Abbey Road or what he had intended to do with the property, but by December of that same year, the house was placed on the auction block.

According to the auction program, this is what the house looked like:

Second Floor Attic: Two Bedrooms
First Floor (upstairs): 7 Bedrooms & a WC
   1. 18’ x 15’
   2. 18’ x 15’6”
   3. 24’ x 16’3”
   4. 15’6” x 15’
   5. 9’6” x 6’6”
   6. 15’6” x 15’
   7. 16’9” x 15’3”

Half Landing: Bath Room

Entrance Floor (1st floor):

  • Dining Room 23’ x 15’ with a lift to the kitchen in the basement
  • Drawing Room 39’ x 18’
  • Library 15’ x 14’6”
  • Morning Room 23’ x 16’
  • Study 15’ x 10’
  • WC

Half Basement: Kitchen, Scullery (for washing dishes and clothes), Servants’ Hall, Pantry, Two servant bedrooms, Larder (pantry), Wine Cellar and W.C.

The house never made it to auction. F.H. Meyers accepted an offer of £16k for the property from the Gramophone Company, making a sizable profit in less than 6 months of ownership.

If you’d like to learn more about 3 Abbey Road after Gramophone purchased it in 1929, I highly recommend you get a copy of Brian Southall’s book – Abbey Road.


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I Saw The Beatles – Episode 21 with T Morgan 

Welcome back to episode 21 of I Saw The Beatles! This weeks very special guest is on-air personality T Morgan – the father of classic rock radio in Philadelphia and member of the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame. T saw the Beatles in 1966 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, PA. T wrote a book about his 40+ years as a disc jockey – Confessions of a Teenage Disc Jockey

Source: I Saw The Beatles – Episode 21 with T Morgan 

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I Saw The Beatles – Episode 20 with Ruth McCartney (Part 2) 

Welcome back to episode 20 of I Saw The Beatles. This week is part 2 of our conversation with Ruth McCartney…step-sister to Sir Paul McCartney. Ruth talks about growing up within the McCartney family and how she adapted. For more information about Ruth McCartney, go to:

Source: I Saw The Beatles – Episode 20 with Ruth McCartney (Part 2) 

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The History of Abbey Road Studio – Part 8

Arthur John Maundy Gregory

Some may say that before the Beatles walked through the door of Abbey Road Studios, this man, Arthur John Maundy Gregory was the most famous person to ever walk the halls of 3 Abbey Road. But for all the wrong reasons. There have been at least 5 books written about ‘Maundy Gregory’. There have also been episodes of TV crime shows about the two murders he is suspected of committing and audio books that discuss his shady dealings.

Maundy Gregory was the owner of 3 Abbey Road from 1922 – June 1929, but in order to understand the man, you have to go back a little further into his past. The stories are amazing, but here a a brief synopsis.

Arthur John Maundy Gregory was born on July 1, 1877, to Elizabeth and Reverend Francis Maundy Gregory – the Vicar of St. Michael’s Church in Southampton. He was the fourth born out of six children and the third of five sons. By the age of 5, three of his siblings passed away. Maundy would go on to college, but upon the death of his father in 1899, he would drop out pursue an unsuccessful career in theater. During this time, he developed a deep and lasting friendship with an actress by the name of Edith Marion Davies (her stage name was Vivienne Peirrepont) and her husband Frederick Rosse. In the summer of 1922, Maudy and Edith moved into 3 Abbey Road while her husband was on tour. The Rosses would occupy the downstairs portion and Maundy the upstairs portion of the house. There were frequent parties at the house.

At one point in time, Edith would become her teenage niece’s unofficial guardian and Ethel would move into the home. Even though the relationship between Edith and the troubled, rebellious teen would eventually become strained, Ethel remained the sole beneficiary in Edith’s will.

In 1923, the Rosses would separate but never divorce and Fred would promise to give half his generous income to her for the rest of his life. This would suit Maundy Gregory just fine since he like to lead an extravagant lifestyle on his minimal income. Maundy and Edith would continue to through extravagant parties and be sure to make appearances at others. Some people would believe they were a married couple upon meeting them, but they generally referred to each other as brother and sister.

At this time in British history, politics were taking a turn for the worse. It was becoming quite common for some members of the Parliament to pack the House of Lords but offering ‘honours’ to friends who had the same political leanings. This eventually became known as Cash for Honours. Members of Parliament would find someone who would do the dirty work themselves in order to avoid being tied to such dealings. And so it was, that Maundy Gregory would become a dealer of titles. (For about $10k, anyone could become a Lord.) He would be arrest in 1933 and told he could leave the country for a light sentence.

But…What about the accusations of murder against Maundy? It’s been said that he was responsible for the disappearance and presumed murder of a man who tried to extort money from Maundy in exchange for keeping secret about his selling of Lordships. It’s also believed the Maundy manipulated Edith Rosse into changing her will on her death bed to make him the sole beneficiary of her estate. It’s believed by many that he poisoned her. Her niece would eventually contest the will, but when the body was exhumed for further examination, Maundy had conveniently had Edith buried on the rivers edge of an island so that the casket had filled with water and washed away any evidence of poisoning.

There is so many more details to the life of Arthur John Maundy Gregory that there just isn’t enough room in my blog, but I would suggest my readers to pick up a copy of Cash for Honours: The Story of Maundy Gregory by Andrew Cook to learn more about Maundy and his life at 3 Abbey Road.





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Book Review: “Em & Moo: Legacy of a ’60s Female Rock Duo” by Kathy Bushnell

When I put out a request earlier this month for guests for my podcast, I Saw The Beatles, I got an email from Kathy Bushnell, the author of the recently published book – Em & Moo: Legacy of a ’60s Female Rock Duo. After recording a show with her, I was anxious to read her book!

Kathy calls her book a memoir and talks about her exciting life growing up in New York City and how a series of events, including seeing the Beatles play at Shea Stadium in August of 1965 inspired her to become a musician. But she didn’t just become a multi-instrumental talent, she went on to form her own female rock duo that toured Europe. Not just any rock duo, but the FIRST female rock duo in Britain.  Their band, Emily Muff, went on to open for such bands as Yes, Family, Steppenwolf and America and eventually played the Royal Albert Hall in London.

You would think this would be exciting enough to read about, but no. It’s her encounters with the Glimmer Twins – Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that makes her story even more dynamic. She first met Keith, Brian Jones and Bill Wyman when her brother helped sneak her into a bar in NYC when she was just 16. She would have run ins with the Rolling Stones several more times after she moved to London after she dropped out of college. And still, the stories don’t stop there…like when one of her flat mates in London tells her he just joined a new band and they’re going to call themselves…Yes!

The great stories never seem to end in this book. I couldn’t put it down. And I doubt too many other readers won’t have the same reaction. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!


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I Saw The Beatles – Episode 19 with Ruth McCartney (Part 1) 

Welcome back to episode 19 of I Saw The Beatles. This week is part 1 of our 2 part conversation with Ruth McCartney…step-sister to Sir Paul McCartney. Ruth talks about growing up within the McCartney family and the hysteria surrounding The Beatles. For more information about Ruth McCartney, go to:

Source: I Saw The Beatles – Episode 19 with Ruth McCartney (Part 1) 10/25 by I Saw The Beatles | Pop Culture

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The History of Abbey Road Studio – Part 7

John Henry Cordner-James

John Henry Cordner-James

John Henry was born in 1858, eleven years senior to his wife Marie. They were 33 and 22 when they were married on December 10, 1889 and according to the marriage record, they were already living at the same address. Six days later there was an announcement in the Times of London saying that as of December 11, 1889, John Henry James officially changed his name to John Henry Cordner-James. John’s reasons were that he did this to differentiate himself from all the other John Henry James. Marie would also hyphenate their two surnames.

Prior to moving into 3 Abbey Road, John Henry and Marie had six children: John “Denis”, Philip, Norah, Frank, Michael “Desmond”, and Joan Cordner-James. The oldest son, Denis would pass away from tuberculosis in June 1903 at the age of 12 before the family moved into the estate on Abbey Road in 1912. From the 1901 and 1911 London census, and Norah’s biography, we know they kept at least four servants on staff at the former residences.

John Henry Cordner-James was a mining engineer, consultant and expert that traveled the world for business. In the early 1890’s, John and his brother William started their own firm called James Brothers – Consulting and Mining Engineers. At the same time that the brothers were setting up shop together, another up and coming gold mining engineer began working for Bewick, Moreing & Co., a London based company operating mines in Australia. His name was Herbert Hoover and John Coldner-James and he would become friends, and prior to Hoover becoming the 31st president of the United States.

One of the drawbacks of the mining industry, would be the necessary traveling.  Commercial airline travel was still decades away, so they would travel by ship to Australia, South Africa, India and South America. A one-way trip to Sydney, Australia from England would take 54 days, making it seem as if he spent just enough time at home to get his wife pregnant again before leaving on another voyage. According to Norah’s book, John and Marie were very fond of each other.

While preparing to move his family into their 84 year old Abbey Road abode in July 1912, John Henry got into a long exchange of letters with the Trustees to the Eyre Estate and their lawyers over the cost of repairs and his annual lease terms. He had already paid £300 to buy out the existing lease from the Todd estate and requested that if he forfeit that lease, that he be given a new 21 year lease at the rate of £5 per year (£566 in 2019) for the first seven years and £110 for the remainder (£12,460 in 2019). His request was due to the “dilapidation” of the premises. The house at this time was in need of repairs and upgrades such as changing the gas lights to electrical lighting, changing the pull bells to electric bells, new floors, a lift from the basement to first floor, a new bath and drains. Cordner-James was also one of the first people to own a car in England, so he wished to build a garage. All in all, it would cost him over £700 (approximately £79,292 in 2019). By August, the Trustees were suggesting a 14 year lease with £50 for the first seven years and £180 for the remaining. John Henry called in the services of New & Sons – Architects & Surveyors to look over the property and give their assessment. In a letter the lawyers of the Trustees, they wrote:

We do not think this house will ever let at the rental you mention, it has good reception rooms, but very poor Hall and the approach to the Drawing Room speaks for itself as a makeshift, the Bedroom accommodation is small in number of rooms, with cramped Staircase and passages – we think anyone willing to pay £250 for a house in St. John’s Wood would require a much better planned house than the one in question.”

The letters would continue to be exchanged, sometimes daily, through September, but there is no record of how it was resolved, but the Cordner-James family would only stay 10 years. And this would not be the last conflict that John Henry would have concerning the trustees and the house.

In 1914, the Ladies Workers’ Homes, Limited bought the property 1 Abbey Road “as part of a scheme for providing women workers with small flats. They proposed to build a seven story building with 120 bedrooms and 26 individual flats (apartments) that would tower over the south side of 3 Abbey Road. Obviously, this wasn’t to the liking of John Henry and there was a contract drawn up in 1915 that would limit the height and placement of the new building and also call for glazing on all windows facing the Cordner-James property.

In 1916, advertisements were published saying rooms were now available for let – One of these unusually well-planned FLATS consisting of five rooms, kitchen and usual conveniences, now available. Handsomely furnished. Constant Hot Water and Electric Light throughout. Inclusive rent Four Guineas Weekly. Today, a two bedroom flat in Abbey House costs £675,000 ($814,769).

By 1919, the London Building Company plan update the wall between 1 and 3 Abbey Road with a new 10’ party wall. Again, weeks would pass with multiple letters being exchanged between John Henry, the Trustees to the Eyre Estate, surveyors and lawyers over the height, placement and lighting of the wall. The wall is still standing today, but not without becoming an issue with some of later owners of 1 and 3 Abbey Road.

Norah C. JamesNorah Margaret Ruth Cordner-James was born in September 1895 in Hampstead, Middlesex, England. She would grow up to be a writer. Her first book, Sleeveless Errand, would be deemed indecent and banned, throwing her and her writing into the public eye. In 1939 Norah wrote her autobiography which gives a glimpse into the inner workings of the Cordner-James family up until she moved out on her own in 1924. She talks about the tension in the house, her father being very strict and her mother being very sweet and loving. John Henry’s temper was blamed for the trouble in keeping maids and governesses on staff. Multiple ads were placed in the local newspapers over the years to hire new maids. Norah also talks quite a bit about a cane that was kept in the nursery that their father would use to give them lashings when were bad.



By the summer of 1922, the Cordner-James family moved out of 3 Abbey Road and into 41 Park Road, Hampton Hill. At some point, John Henry had an affair with a woman by the name of Edith Emily Osman that produced a daughter in 1924. But despite the rumors that he abandoned his family, in 1934, John Henry and his family moved into a home he had custom built in Aldeburgh called Pinehurst and all phone and voting records show Marie still living with him up until his death at Pinehurst in 1946.

In his will, John Henry Cordner-James left his estate valued at £14,414 in 1946 (£598,673 in 2019) to his mistress Edith Emily Osman, his nephew Alec James and solicitor Kenneth Leslie Titmuss.

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